5 key questions to ask at a careers fair

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If you are heading into your final year at uni, you are likely to be bombarded with info about graduate job opportunities as soon as you arrive on campus, and with many graduate job application deadlines kicking in before Christmas, it is crucial you give your future career some serious consideration during your first term.

Visiting a careers fair can be a great way to fast-track your search for the perfect graduate role. They offer you the opportunity to chat to recruiters, get a real feel for what it might be like to work for a range of companies, and for insider tips on the application process.

The GradJobs team have been organising the National Graduate Recruitment Exhibitions for 30 years, so they know a thing or to about the do’s and don’ts of attending a careers fair.

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In order to get the most out of your visit, you need to make sure you are asking the right questions… here are the GradJobs team’s top 5!

What graduate opportunities do you have?

If possible, try and find this out before you get to the fair as this will demonstrate to recruiters that you are a serious candidate. If you already know what position you are interested in, open with that. You may be lucky and find there is someone on the stand currently in that role who will be able to offer you a first-hand insight.

However, if a company catches your eye on the day, don’t be afraid to approach them. You never know what new possibilities you might discover!

Where are your graduate opportunities based?

If your heart is set on living in Manchester and a role is based in Cornwall, you’ll need to give some serious thought to where your priorities lie.

What does the application process involve?

This will indicate to the company that you are genuinely interested in joining them. You will also (hopefully!) get a good idea of what to expect at each stage of the process, which will allow you to prepare in advance.

The National Graduate Recruitment Exhibitions offer you the opportunity to gain expert advice on each stage of the recruitment process: from creating the perfect CV, to acing psychometric tests, and impressing at assessment centres.

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What kind of person do you look for?

You spend more time with your colleagues than anyone else, so it is important that the company is the right fit for you. The answer to this question will give you a good indication of who you might be working with. If they look for a ‘go hard or go home’ attitude, and you prefer to work in a calm environment, it might not be the best choice for you. Take note of their answer and weave key words into your application.

Any advice? May I contact you if I have any other questions?

There is a high chance the people you are talking to have all been through the recruitment process, so they are in a unique position to offer you advice.

It doesn’t hurt to ask for contact details of the person you’ve spoken to. They may not give them to you (don’t take it personally), but if they do, follow up with them after the event to jog their memory of meeting you. There is a fine line between networking and stalking though – don’t send multiple messages if you haven’t received a response!

The better prepared you are before you go to the exhibition, the more you will benefit from it. If possible, have a look at the list of companies recruiting, book a ticket if necessary and double check the event timetable so you don’t miss anything you want to go to.

Good luck!

The GradJobs team

The National Graduate Recruitment Exhibitions will take place on 13 and 14 October at Olympia London and on 3 and 4 November at the NEC, Birmingham.

Entry is free and full-time students can get subsidised travel. Click here for more info about what’s going on and to book your free ticket!

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